This week students had the opportunity to explore the culture of Colombia through Georgetown PorColombia’s first annual Colombian Week.
Events included a lecture from Francisco Santos CalderÃ³n, vice president of Columbia, and a soccer game with Carlos “el Pibe” Valderrama.
Georgetown PorColombia is a chapter of the national student-run organization PorColombia, which is dedicated to educating and spreading awareness of plans to make Colombia a stronger and safer country. Georgetown PorColombia works to unite Colombians both on campus and in the greater D.C. community to promote leadership and a national identity.
“The mission [of PorColombia] is centered on showing why we have certain problems such as the military situation, drug trade and terrorism,” Orlando Sabbag (COL ’09), president of Georgetown PorColombia, said. “We also want to emphasize Colombia’s magnificent culture, such as the arts, sports, coffee and music, and show the amazing things we have to offer.”
To celebrate Colombia Week, Georgetown PorColombia tabled in Red Square every day, from April 20 to April 24, offering Colombian coffee and information about the country. There were also photographic displays in the Intercultural Center Galleria of the Carnival of Barranquilla and the environmental damage caused by drug production in Colombia.
“At the Georgetown University chapter, our mission is to . carry out activities that promote a positive, yet objective vision of our country,” Julian De Lavalle (COL ’10), a member of PorColombia, said.
On Wednesday evening, there was a film screening of “Paraiso Travel,” a movie based on Jorge Franco Ramos’ novel about two young lovers from MedellÃn, Colombia who illegally immigrate to the United States to seek fortune in New York City.
Colombian Ambassador to the United States Carolina Barco, gave introductory remarks. After the screening there was an open discussion with screenwriter Juan RendÃ³n, Ramos and Margarita Rosa de Francisco, an actress in the film.
Colombian speakers also came to educate students about the issues facing Colombia. On Wednesday, Eduardo Andres Gonzalez Mora, a former advisor to the high commissioner for peace of Colombia, spoke about current Colombian peace policies. CalderÃ³n spoke yesterday about the shared responsibility of the drug trade and the complexity of the situation.
“Drug trafficking is not just a matter of freedom, public health or recreational habits – it has global consequences,” CalderÃ³n said. “Consuming a line of coke affects others, destroys the environment, kills innocent people and finances kidnappings.”
On Thursday evening, PorColombia hosted a soccer game on Harbin Field with Valderrama, Major League Soccer’s most valuable player in 1996and one of the most well known soccer players in Colombia’s history.
Sabbag said that Georgetown PorColombia wants to change the United States’ conceptions of Colombia because often there is misinformation about the violence and dangers of traveling to Colombia.
“Colombia is a safer place today and we are working to make it better,” Sabbag said. “We need to work together to solve this.”
Colombia Week was sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University; the Embassy of Colombia; the Georgetown University Lecture Fund; Avianca Airlines; Proexport, Colombia es Pasion; and Sempertex.